Distracted driving continues to be one of the biggest issues facing both drivers and law enforcement today. In fact distracted driving now claims more lives each year than impaired driving. By August of 2016 Ontario had already seen double the number of distracted driving fatalities as those caused by impaired driving. British Columbia saw 78 fatalities from distracted driving versus 66 from impaired driving.
Most people will tell you that they are concerned about distracted drivers. They don’t want to be the victim in an accident because someone was looking at their phone. Yet nearly 75% of Canadians admit to engaging in distracted behaviors while driving. If 75% of people said they drove while impaired would you still drive?
According to a study done by the Insurance Bureau of Canada a distracted driver may fail to see up to 50% of the available information in the driving environment. You may look but not actually “see” what is happening. The end result is you’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text while driving and 4 times more likely if you talk on a cell phone while driving. The study showed that nearly 80% of collisions and 65% of near-collisions involved some form of driver inattention up to three seconds prior to the event.
In Alberta the fine for distracted driving currently starts at $287 and 3 demerit points. On top of this you may face insurance premium increases for the conviction. If an accident results from the distracted driving your conviction could be upgraded to careless driving, which is a criminal code conviction. You could then face further possible car insurance premium increases for the conviction and accident. Depending on the severity of the accident you could be sued, possibly for millions. You could find yourself in a situation where the lawsuit is higher than the limit of liability coverage on your auto policy.
So what can you do?
Well, if you find yourself driving home tonight and your phone rings or you get a text that just can’t wait find a safe place to pull over. Deal with the message or call, put your phone away, and then go back to giving your full attention to the road. It’s not just your life you endanger when using your phone while driving.
Some smartphones, like Apple’s iPhone, now offer a do not disturb while driving mode. As soon as the phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth, it disables text notification and sends an automatic response back to the sender advising you’re driving at the moment and will get back to them when you stop driving.